Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Saturday, 12 October 2019

Fresh Calls to Replace BBC TV Licence with Subscription Model

An influential think tank has made fresh calls for the replacement of the BBC TV licence fee with a subscription model.

New Vision - Transforming the BBC into a Subscriber-Owned Mutual, written by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Senior Academic Fellow Professor Philip Booth, argues that the justifications for state intervention in broadcasting used by Government, Ofcom, and the BBC are outdated and do not reflect present-day society or technology.

The report argues that the BBC's audience is becoming increasingly narrow, with a boom in subscription and on-demand services and a variety of perceived BBC biases. That being the case the current BBC funding model, which requires TV viewers to fund the BBC via the purchase of a TV licence, is a modern day anachronism and not fit for purpose.

Booth proposes a new ownership model - based on recognisable and popular institutions like The Co-Operative or the National Trust - which remove the obligation to purchase a TV licence.

Under the new system the BBC would be funded by subscription payments. The new organisation, which Booth suggests might be called the National Broadcasting Trust (NBT), would be owned collectively by its subscribers. Those subscribers would be responsible for electing members to the NBT's governing board and shaping the future direction of NBT policy and creative output.

It is a brilliantly simple idea - the people who consume the NBT pay for the NBT; no-one else is pestered or coerced into paying for a service they don't need or want.

Booth also suggests that he BBC should lose its legal privileges and be treated in the same way as all other news and media organisations for competition and other purposes.

Sadly, the concept of a subscriber-owned national broadcaster is vehemently opposed by the BBC. As we have said many times before, the BBC will fight to the death to protect its beloved TV licence fee - its annual £3.8bn hit received by divine right, irrespective of however woeful its output, sordid its scandal or incompetent its financial management.

The TV licence is effectively a poll tax that every viewer has to pay, irrespective of the channel they decide to watch. Knowing how deeply unpopular the TV licence was, the BBC used the advent of digital broadcasting to bury any alternative funding model for a generation.

Freeview came into being in 2002. It was a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BSkyB and transmitter operator Arqiva.

Greg Dyke, who was the BBC Director General between 2000 and his resignation in 2004, was one of the key players in the development of the new technology. He was adamant that Freeview should be cheap, simple and available to as many people as possible.

If Freeview had introduced "smart" digital receivers, with the ability to block out those channels people hadn't paid for, then you can be fairly confident that viewers would have argued that the TV licence, which exclusively funds BBC services, was obsolete.

The BBC wanted to avoid that situation at all costs, because people would then have the option of refusing to pay for its services. Given recent scandal at the Corporation, you can be fairly confident that millions of viewers would have stopped paying if given the option.

Dyke realised that if the market was flooded with cheap "dumb" digital receivers, which lacked the ability to block television signals from individual users, then it would be virtually impossible to establish some sort of BBC subscription model later on.

In response to the IEA report, a BBC spokesman said: "Used by over 90 percent of the public every week, most people, including most politicians agree that the BBC is now more important than ever as a bulwark against fake news and misinformation, and as the biggest investor in original British programmes that the public love.

"The licence fee is by far the most popular way of funding the BBC among the public."

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Sunday, 6 October 2019

BBC Journalist Sweeney Leaves Under Tommy Robinson Shadow

The BBC's John Sweeney has quit after seventeen years at the Corporation.

Sweeney regularly reported on current affairs programmes including Panorama and Newsnight.

His final Panorama assignment, which sought to discredit right-wing activist Tommy Robinson, spectacularly backfired when he unwittingly interviewed an ally of Robinson's.

Sweeney was caught on camera boasting about quaffing wine on BBC expenses and suggesting that he would use underhand tactics to get the critical angle on Robinson he wanted.

In response Robinson broadcast undercover footage of Sweeney's interview and created his own documentary exposing bias at the BBC.

The makers of the BBC's Panorama programme issued an apology.

"Some of the footage which has been released was recorded without our knowledge during this investigation and John Sweeney made some offensive and inappropriate remarks, for which he apologises," a spokesperson said earlier this year.

In the storm that followed, the Panorama programme was never broadcast and Sweeney never appeared on screen again.

In a parting act of defiance Sweeney tweeted that Robinson was "a c**t" and that he'd "paid for all the drinks" to celebrate his departure.

In an email to staff, the BBC's head of current affairs Joanna Carr praised his "courageous and award-winning journalism", adding: "John's investigations have made a significant contribution to BBC journalism and we wish him all the best for the future."

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Saturday, 28 September 2019

Age UK Warns of Surge in TV Licensing Fraudsters

A leading UK old people's charity has warned that the BBC's recent decision to tighten the eligibility criteria for over-75 TV licences will lead to a surge in fraud.

Research by Age UK suggests there could be a 13% rise in fraudsters posing as TV Licensing, which could result in elderly people being cheated out of £320,000.

Since the over-75 TV licence was introduced in the year 2000, the concession has been available to every household with at least one occupant aged 75 years or older.

As a condition of the BBC's most recent Royal Charter renewal, the national broadcaster agreed to fund the over-75 TV licence in its entirety. In an effort to reduce the £750m annual cost of providing over-75 TV licences, it has toughened the rules for getting one.

With effect from June 2020 the "free" TV licence will only be available to those over-75 households with an occupant in receipt of pension credit.

Around 3 million current recipients of the over-75 TV licence will lose their eligibility, saving the BBC around £470 million a year.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's charity director, said: "Fraudsters are always searching for new opportunities to part us from our cash and it seems that the decision to make millions of older people buy a TV licence from next summer could be a bonanza for them.

"As though the prospect of losing their free TV licence wasn’t bad enough for our over-75s, this expected upsurge in fraudulent communications adds insult to injury and will be a further kick in the teeth for anyone unfortunate enough to be caught out.

Tom Watson MP, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said: "It is a disgrace that there are some TV licence scammers trying to defraud some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They should be ashamed of themselves.

"This Tory Government should urgently rethink its decision to scrap millions of free TV licences. We already knew it would leave older people worse off and more isolated. Now we know it could leave them vulnerable to these despicable fraudsters too."

A Government spokesman said: "We're very disappointed with the BBC's decision – we were clear we expected it to continue this concession.

"Taxpayers want to see the BBC using its substantial licence fee income in an appropriate way to ensure it delivers for UK audiences, which includes showing restraint on salaries for senior staff."

The BBC said: "We take these issues very seriously and we are doing everything we can to help protect our customers against fraudsters by ensuring they can distinguish between what is a genuine TV Licensing communication and what is a scam.

"Our advice is that if people are unsure about a communication they've received, they should contact us directly and we can help. We never contact customers out of the blue to ask for bank details, personal information, or to tell them that they may be entitled to a refund."

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